Unsustainable harvest is a great issue when dealing with rattan. Major depletions of rattan leads to forest degradation. Up to 55 percent of harvest is wasted along the supply chain. Highly toxic substances causing air, water and soil pollution and health issues for workers. Non-registered rattan traders can undercut legitimate traders. Over 90 percent of finished rattan products currently produced in Cambodia and Lao PDR do not comply with required product quality standards and lack proper licenses.
The SWITCH-Asia “Establishing a Sustainable Production System for Rattan Products in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam” project seeks to address the "Sustainable Rattan Industries" and aims to boost the export of sustainable rattan products from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. By 2015, the project envisions that at least 50% of rattan processing in the region is sustainable, leading to environmental improvements, strengthened competitiveness, poverty alleviation and national economic benefits. The SWITCH-Asia project trains villagers in harvesting sustainable rattan and producing sustainable furniture. Linking local producers with global value chains creates new local income opportunities and employment. The objective: poverty alleviation and protection of natural resources at the same time. The project involves all
actors in the rattan supply chain.
Project Duration: 01/2009 - 12/2011
12 February 2011, Frankfurt, Germany
Natural rattan belongs to the design classics and it is making a comeback in design circles. Unfortunately, conventional forestry practices may damage tropical forests when the rattan is harvested. To avoid this forest destruction, WWF has set up a European Union funded programme for sustainable production and processing of rattan in the Mekong region. An innovative collection for rattan home accessories is being showcased this week at the international design fair Ambiente in Frankfurt/Main.
WWF is working with Swedish designers, graduates from Lund University, in cooperation with local companies, to develop rattan products that are suitable for the international market. These products range from doormats made of rattan waste to foldable baskets, and a unique rattan lounge chair.
In addition, the WWF has analysed the worldwide trade flows of rattan. The key points of a scientific study launched today include: between 2006 and 2008, global trade declined by 26 percent due to dwindling rattan resources and forest loss. Indonesia is the most important exporting country in the world, with a market share of 80 percent. The major buyers are the EU and China. Vietnam plays an essential role for the EU market, exporting mainly to Germany and France. Vietnam is also a major importing country – the suppliers are Laos, India, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Rattan species are members of the palm family and grow climbing and winding themselves around other vegetation and some varieties can grow to lengths of more than one hundred metres. “Forests with such a wide variety of flora and fauna, which have disappeared in other regions of the world, still exist in the Mekong region”, said Thibault Ledecq, WWF Sustainable Rattan Project Manager. “More than 1,000 new animal and plant species have been discovered in the Mekong region in the last ten years alone”. But many of these rattan resources are being overexploited, leading to a decline of many rattan species, prompting WWF to create the Sustainable Rattan Programme in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam five years ago.
The objectives of the programme are to manage the tropical forests containing rattan in accordance with the Principles and Criteria of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and to promote and implement the United Nations’ principles of “Cleaner Production”. These include the optimisation of material and energy flows, minimising waste and water contamination, and reducing emissions.
“Sustainable rattan only has a chance if there is a market for it and if the forests where the rattan grows are still standing”, explained Ledecq. He is convinced: “With credible forest management, responsible trade, and consumer awareness we can ensure that this fascinating natural raw material has a future”.
20 January 2011
The first delivery of certified rattan with an FSC-label from Laos is expected in early summer this year. Significant progress has been made towards more sustainable rattan management and harvesting. Villagers can now contribute to protecting the forest while still harvesting rattan shoots and seedlings to provide them with extra income and boost the local economy.
During a field visit on 5-6 January WWF Directors from the Mekong region, representatives from WWF Sweden and IKEA, were able to see for themselves improvements made in villages in the Bolikhamxay province in central Laos.
To combat overharvesting, villagers from Phontong have planted 5000 seedlings in the forest to ensure the growth of commercially viable rattan. An inventory carried out by the project and the communities has also identified a large number of different species in the wild. A forest management plan covering more than 400 hectares has been set up with the communities, by the Agriculture and Forestry District Office in cooperation with WWF and Forest Research Center (FRC). The quality and benefits of this management plan has been recognized by the Lao government, and the global certification organization for sustainable forestry, Forest Stewardship Council. The first certified rattan harvest meeting the standard for NTFP (Non Timber Forest Products) will be harvested and marketed this year under FSC logo.
Last year communities earned 1000 US-dollar from the first sale of rattan resources under the sustainable rattan management plan.
“In 2009 we expanded our work to more villagers and intensified our cooperation with retailers and authorities with the aim of producing and exporting certified rattan products to Europe and other global markets from 2011, says WWF rattan project manager Bouaphet Bounsourath.
The Head of Agriculture and Forestry Office in Bolikhamxay province near the Vietnamese border, Maychome Vannasankham, told the visitors that the WWF project had contributed to a better control of rattan resources for the future – and an increased awareness and capacity building.
“Communities can make their own decisions regarding their forest resources. With the management plan in place Phonthong villagers were able to stop 200 hectares of planned charcoal extraction”, he added.
WWF has participated in conservation work for sustainable rattan in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia since 2006, however during the last two years work has intensified and now involves around 100 villages.
The success of the rattan project was apparent when the WWF-team visited the village of Sopphouan with 400 inhabitants. Apart from better management of the forest, plantations of rattan seedlings and rattan shoots have become popular among villagers whose livelihood to a large part depends on rice cultivation.
“My family earns around 155 USD a year from selling rattan shoots, said villager Mai Liey. For the whole village it adds up to about 1000 US dollars a year. It´s easy and you can harvest new crops several times a month. We also let the seed grow in the nursery and in two years they can be harvested.
07 September 2010
For the first time ever, rattan companies from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are participating in the Spoga International trade fair in Germany to promote their sustainable rattan products to the European market.
The Spoga International Trade Fair for Sport, Camping and Garden Lifestyle, is being held in Cologne, Germany from 5th to 7th of September, attracting more than 2,500 exhibitors and 45,000 trade visitors from around the world.
“Rattan companies need to be ready for a big leap in terms of developing environmentally friendly production systems and product designs if they are to attract international buyers,” added Ms Sylvie Rasombath, WWF Laos Rattan Marketing Officer.
For two years, WWF has been working with local communities, rattan companies, national and local authorities in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to promote cleaner production along the rattan supply chain. The aim is to improve local livelihoods, promote responsible forest management and certification, clean up the rattan production system, and link local rattan products to the global market.
“We are looking forward to promoting the Mekong’s rattan products to the European market,” said Xaykham Phetmanyvong the owner of Danlao Co,.Ltd. ‘I think we can learn a lot from what they have to offer in terms of innovative design and meeting international standards.’
“The trade fair is a fantastic opportunity for the Mekong rattan industry to see first-hand how investing in sustainable and clean production systems can give them access to new markets,” said Thibault Ledecq, WWF’s Rattan Programme Manager.
The project “Establishing a Sustainable Production System for Rattan Products in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam” is co-funded by the European Union (EU), the international home-products retailer IKEA and the German development finance institution (DEG).
May 2010, Ho Chi Min City
the SWITCH-Asia project "Sustainable Rattan Industries" brought together 15 rattan companies from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to Vietnam Lifestyle that held from 22-26 April. The Vietnam Lifestyle is the most famous International Home Decor and Gifts Fair in Vietnam, targets at rattan end-users retailers wholesalers, traders and processors regionally and internationally. It was a good opportunity for Lao rattan companies to gather new information on European retailers and foreign market needs on new designs, and to share technical skills with their neighbour’s rattan companies, she added. The European rattan market is more and more interested in the sustainable natural product. Rise up the natural material, as the rattan canes in the high level of design products, is an exciting challenge for the Lao rattan companies to take up.
The rattan companies met with European retailers in a short time to discuss on the trade opportunities, condition and procedure of exporting rattan products to Europe.
The Rattan Regional Programme has been promoting ways to engage local communities as well as rattan traders and processors to work together in sustaining rattan supply in the three counties.
March 2010, Phnom Penh
In Cambodia, the SWITCH-Asia Project Sustainable Rattan Industry called all stakeholders involved in rattan production and processing together for a planning workshop. On 17 March, participants from all sections of the supply chain met in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh where project partners and beneficiaries jointly reviewed activities conducted in 2009 and discussed the focus of activities for 2010.
A working group focussed on the problem of transportation of rattan from villagers to producers and looked at how costs could be reduced. A second working group identified plantation areas and how village rattan committees could be funded. A third working group developed a strategy for efficient and cleaner production.